Taxi Drama Update [Newsday – Court rules on Long Beach taxi medallions]

Head over to Newsday and read the latest on the Long Beach Taxi / Beech Street Taxi wars. Read – Court rules on Long Beach taxi medallions.  Some interesting notes:

“The Nassau County Supreme Court has ruled that a batch of licenses formerly held by Long Beach Taxi owner John Marsala were not his property, the latest chapter in the feud between the city’s two cab companies.

….Supreme Court Justice Thomas Phelan decided last week that because the licenses had expired, Marsala was not entitled to an appeal under the city’s code of ordinances, and that “the city’s denial of petitioner’s renewal applications was not arbitrary or capricious.” Because the licenses were inactive, Phelan said it was fair for the city to issue them to [Beech Street Taxi owner, Thomas] Cipolla.

Marsala’s attorney, Michael Zapson, said Saturday that they plan to appeal the decision..

Please note that Michael Zapson, who was on the LB City Countil back in the 1990’s, is currently the chairmen of the Democratic Committee. Democrats make up the majority of our current Long Beach city council. It has been suggested that this whole taxi-mess is allegedly political. Is it? Um….. I am not going there. You guys can argue that one out. Just don’t shoot the messenger.

Related seabythecity story: RUMOR: Beech Street Taxi gonna lose their medallions?

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5 thoughts on “Taxi Drama Update [Newsday – Court rules on Long Beach taxi medallions]”

  1. I’ve been reading the comments regarding the Long Beach Taxi “Wars” and the particular negative comments towards Long Beach Taxi. Multiple points have been missing and errors need to be addressed so people have a complete picture. Yes, I am a fan of Long Beach Taxi and I know that makes me the minority on these boards but please hear me out and let me give you another insider’s perspective.
    1) For all intents and purposes this is a business dispute between two individual owners and how each perceived they were entitled to receive (or not receive) medallions and access to public space. Yes, it is true that medallions were deemed inactive by the City and the Mr. Cippola picked them up for a song (presumably leased for $100/year) with the previous administration. Simply put, he was given special treatment by the previous administration and the medallions were essentially given away. Mr. Cipolla can mention the $400,000 in startup costs he had to come up with but the reality is he would have needed a lot more had he paid fair market value for the leasing of those medallions. In this regard, perhaps his company should never have been started in the first place if preferential treatment by the previous administration was part of his business plan. Mr. Cipolla was also given special treatment when he was allowed to use the west side of the train station solely for his cars. This is a public roadway and its use should be allowed for ALL taxis (including, but not limited to, Long Beach Taxi). The manner in which the west side was given to Mr. Cipolla some four years was capricious and arbitrary at best. I know; I was there. It was decreed approximately fifteen minutes after a Beech Street Taxi driver was standing outside the car of a Long Beach Taxi driver challenging him to a physical confrontation. There were no formal public hearings, no appeal options were offered to Mr. Marsala, and the decision was made without regard to Mr. Marsala’s right to have his taxis on a public roadway.
    2) Mr. Cipolla is crying foul over his treatment by Mr. Marsala’s lawsuits and the economic affect it is having on him as a small business person. Well, guess what? This is America and people are allowed to sue when they feel they have been wronged. Defending your business is the cost of doing business and if you did not calculate this into your business plan, then shame on you. Mr. Cipolla knew Mr. Marsala had deep pockets and would not take muscling into his market share lying down. If Mr. Cipolla did not account for that, it is not Mr. Marsala’s fault. Mr. Marsala is simply doing what anyone of us would do if we were in his shoes and had his resources.
    3) The previous administration of the City of Long Beach and Mr. Cipolla should be ashamed of themselves for being the original sinners of patronage and robbing the taxpayers of Long Beach. It is already well established that the previous administration of City of Long Beach basically ran the finances into the ground. Long Beach is facing a $10+ million structural deficit along with a Moody’s downgrade of five levels in the City’s credit rating. To allow Mr. Cipolla to lease medallions for $100 a year is an robbery to the taxpayers of Long Beach. Those medallions, if rightfully owned by the City of Long Beach (and this is still in dispute), should have been put up for bid whereby the City could have reaped literally thousands of dollars per year for each one. It is obvious what happened here and for Mr. Cipolla to whistle Dixie while proclaiming he had nothing to do with it is repugnant. More disgusting is this putrid example of the previous administration’s giving away of the store.
    4) It has been repeatedly stated that Mr. Marsala is using the new Democratic administration to badger Mr. Cipolla and his company. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Marsala was never particularly involved in politics-he is a business person. Involvement in politics and the sponsorship of candidates would have meant additional expenses, something any businessman abhors. Mr. Marsala was forced into politics simply so he could right wrongs that were committed against him by the previous administration. Unlike Mr. Cipolla, he has not been asking for preferential treatment from the present administration. He has simply been requesting that his lawful rights be restored. Mr. Cipolla has no exclusive rights to the west side of the train station whatsoever and those rights should never have been taken away from Mr. Marsala. If anyone has used politics for his unlawful benefit, it was Mr. Cipolla.
    5) Mr. Cipolla really has no shame by commenting in articles and these boards and crying over the inevitable demise of his business. Perhaps he should not have started one to begin with if it meant that a particular political party would have be in power and stealing from investors is what he needed in order for him to succeed. Yes, it is great to have competition (and I’ll get to that in a moment) but do we need an owner who’s business plan is to rely on the gratuitousness of the previous administration and oversell shares in his company, a felony charge for which he has been convicted of and is awaiting sentencing on? Mr. Marsala, on the other hand, built his company from the ground up and never complained, despite hundreds of challenges. Sure, it’s tough when a business is first started. Everybody knows that, even people who are not in business. It’s called RISK and some people are afraid to take it so they continue being employees. Real business people deal with it and understand there could be failure but hopefully try their best. Mr. Cipolla has been allowed to cut so many corners and now that he is on a more even playing field, he cries foul. Unbelievable!
    6) Yet Mr. Cipolla is still playing at an advantage and it is an advantage that could put the riders of his taxi in danger and the dirty, little secret that he does not want anyone to know. Long Beach Taxi drivers are required by Mr. Marsala to have two different licenses (or TLCs)-one for Long Beach and the other for Nassau County. All drivers in Long Beach have the Long Beach TLC, including Beech Street taxi drivers. The Nassau County TLC is not required by Beech Street Taxi. Why? I don’t know but in addition to requiring that all Nassau TLC licensees attend a Defensive Driving Course, it also requires a yearly drug test. It is well known that if you have drug problem, accident history, or a very spotty criminal record, Beech Street Taxi could be a place where you can go get a job. In essence, you do not really know when, if ever, a Beech Street Taxi was last tested for mind altering drugs. You can be assured that ALL Long Beach Taxi drivers have been tested for drugs at least within the past year. Which taxi company would I want my family and friends to travel in knowing that information? I think the choice is clear.
    7) With regard to competition, I will acquiesce and admit it has improved service for the average taxi rider starting four years ago. There is no doubt that Mr. Marsala did have a somewhat near-monopoly on taxi service in Long Beach. I say near because at the time All-Island Taxi in Island Park and an independent Long Beach owner still (and continue to have) access to the Long Beach market. Mr. Marsala was able to consolidate and bring efficiencies to a local industry that would have eventually collapsed and brought higher fares. The introduction of Beech Street Taxi simply brought cleaner cars and a reduced fare to JFK airport. By the way, without a tip, a taxi driver barely makes a profit driving to JFK. Beech Street reduced the fares to JFK and Mr. Marsala responded in kind. So, in an effort to drive competition, Mr. Cipolla actually was the one who began to reduce the standard of living for drivers in Long Beach yet he whines when it is done against him and his drivers when access to the west side of the train station was rightfully opened up. Mr. Marsala was not in the Long Beach Herald crying and complaining when his profit margins were reduced four years ago by a corrupt administration. He simply dealt with it and reacted appropriately.
    8) Lastly, this is not a “war” per se. Drivers of both companies have conducted themselves in a mostly civil manner. Physical fights have not broken out, any verbal disputes have been settled amicably, and drivers from both companies continue to be cordial and respectful to one another. Keep in mind that drivers from both companies have either worked at both companies or have known one other for years, often from childhood. No driver was becoming rich before Beech Street Taxi came along and took market share so it’s not like millions were being taken from Long Beach Taxi drivers.
    As it stands right now, Long Beach Taxi (with its fleet of clean and undamaged 20+ cars) is able to respond to calls quicker, will not refuse fares to distant points (such as Point Lookout), offer discounted commuter cards to and from the railroad (with savings of up to $28 or more weekly) and its drivers have been drug tested in the past year. Sure, people on this board have complained about the people who answer the phone at Long Beach Taxi as being rude and Mr. Marsala has responded aggressively by personally monitoring phone greetings, firing rude dispatchers, and hiring pleasant answerers. If you have not used Long Beach Taxi in a while, I urge you to give them another chance and see the difference for yourself. I find these drivers to be of a much higher caliber than even the ones from a few months ago.
    Fair competition is great but Mr. Cipolla has sought and received unfair competitive advantages for his business from (what is becoming more apparent with each passing day) a pretty corrupt administration. He continues to have a competitive disadvantage by not allowing his drivers to be drug tested. He has floated his company by basically stealing from his investors. He claims he is paying these investors back however that burden would not have commenced had he not committed his criminal acts in the first place. None of this is Mr. Marsala’s fault yet Mr. Cipolla will continue to point Mr. Marsala as the villain of Mr. Cipolla’s own business problems. It’s time to grow up, run and mind your own business, and, if it’s too hot in the kitchen, Tommy, then get out and let real business people run a taxi company.

  2. He continues to have a competitive disadvantage by not allowing his drivers to be drug tested.
    Maybe a little more than a fan eh? Oh yes fanatic, that does fit i guess.

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